Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

Patrick assesses the future of world order, state sovereignty, and multilateral cooperation.

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Showing posts for "Atrocities"

The Tragic Irony of Syria: The System “Worked”

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks with her Russian counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, before the UN Security Council votes on a resolution—which Russia goes on to veto—regarding the Ukrainian crisis on March 15, 2014. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks with her Russian counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, before the UN Security Council votes on a resolution—which Russia goes on to veto—regarding the Ukrainian crisis on March 15, 2014 (Andrew Kelly/Reuters).

For nearly five years, the UN Security Council has failed to end Syria’s suffering. The numbers are numbing: The war has claimed 250,000 lives and displaced over 50 percent of Syria’s prewar population of twenty-two million. The grinding conflict has deepened sectarian turmoil in the region and created the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe. The tragedy has also laid bare an inconvenient truth about the inherent limits of the Security Council in an era of great power rivalry. Because in Syria, the system worked—just not for the Syrian people. Read more »

Fiddling in Yemen: A Messy War’s Lessons for Global Conflict Management

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick and Stewart M. Patrick
Protesters demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes outside the United Nations offices in Sana'a, Yemen, on November 2, 2015. Protesters demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes outside the United Nations offices in Sana'a, Yemen, on November 2, 2015 (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters).

Coauthored with Callie Plapinger, intern in the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the world watches Syria burn, a tiny glimmer of hope shines in Yemen. Today, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee disclosed that it will use new oversight powers to more closely monitor U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, which for nine months has been carrying out a brutal campaign against Houthi rebels that’s left thousands of civilians dead. The news comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this week by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, that he would begin a renewed push for peace talks in Geneva next week. To be sure, near-term prospects for peace are low, given the conflicting interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran and the growing presence of both al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Even so, the United States should welcome the UN’s latest initiative. More broadly, it should consider what Yemen teaches about the limits of backing proxy interventions—and the need to build up the UN’s multilateral conflict management capabilities. Read more »

Limiting the Security Council Veto in the Face of Mass Atrocities

by Stewart M. Patrick
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius speaks at a session of the UN Security Council on September 19, 2014. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius speaks at a session of the UN Security Council on September 19, 2014 (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters).

PARIS — The veto held by the five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council is one of the most contentious rules of the United Nations. It was included in the UN Charter of 1945 as the explicit price for agreement among the P5—the members that bore the greatest responsibility for maintaining world order—to establish the UN in the first place. However, the veto has repeatedly stymied the Security Council in the face of mass atrocities, despite unanimous endorsement by all UN member states of their individual and collective responsibility to protect (R2P) all people from crimes against humanity. Read more »

Voting Against Accountability for Syria

by Stewart M. Patrick
Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin votes in the United Nations Security Council against referring the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible war crimes at the U.N. headquarters in New York May 22, 2014 (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters).

Coauthored with Claire Schachter, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Today the UN Security Council voted on a French draft resolution referring the situation in Syria—where government forces have systematically slaughtered civilians—to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Russia and China vetoed the resolution. While not surprising, the double veto is enormously frustrating to those demanding a stronger international response to war crimes in Syria. To some observers, the failure of this referral may signal the impossibility of ensuring accountability in a context of geopolitical rivalry. But the Obama administration’s decision to support the resolution, even in the face of near certain defeat, was appropriate and necessary—appropriate in light of its evolving relationship with the ICC and necessary given its limited options for ending the conflict in Syria. Read more »

Lessons of the Rwandan Genocide

by Stewart M. Patrick
The skulls and bones of Rwandan victims rest on shelves at a genocide memorial inside the church at Ntarama just outside the capital Kigali, August 6, 2010. Some 5,000 people, mostly women and children, sought refuge near the church in April 1994, but were massacred by Hutu extremists who used grenades, clubs and machetes to kill their victims. Rwandan voters go to the polls on Monday for the second presidential election since the genocide 16 years ago (Courtesy Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters).

Coauthored with Patrick McCormick, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Twenty years ago yesterday two surface-to-air missiles ripped into a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira. Hutu militias responded by launching a violent genocide against Rwanda’s Tutsi minority. Over the next 100 days, the country became an abattoir. Read more »

Syria and the Global Humanitarian Crisis

by Stewart M. Patrick
Syrian refugee children play at Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq (Muhammad Hamed/ Courtesy Reuters).

Three years after the outbreak of war in Syria, the agony only deepens for its civilian population. The conflict has already killed 140,000, forced 9.5 million­­—44 percent of the nation’s prewar inhabitants—to abandon their homes, and led some 2.5 million Syrians to flee to neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. Syrian refugees now constitute more than 20 percent of Lebanon’s population, on top of 400,000 Palestinian refugees already present. In January, the United Nations sponsored a conference in Kuwait City, requesting that international donors provide $6.5 billion in emergency assistance for the victims of the Syria conflict—a figure dwarfing any previous humanitarian appeal. The scale of this effort underscores the magnitude of the human tragedy in Syria. It also points to broader strains and dilemmas confronting the humanitarian enterprise globally. Read more »

The Global Response to Armed Conflict: From Aleppo to Kinshasa

by Stewart M. Patrick
IIGG announces updated Global Governance Monitor (Yurri Erfansyah/Courtesy Reuters).

As the civil war in Syria rages on, and the United States and its international partners appear unable to mobilize a collective response to stem the bloodshed, CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance program has launched an update to its Global Governance Monitor: Armed Conflict. The revamped multimedia guide uses a new technology platform to track and analyze recent multilateral efforts to prevent, manage, and respond to armed violence around the globe. Combining stunning images and compelling narrative, it identifies the major successes and failures in global conflict mitigation during 2013. Read more »

The 2013 Nobel Message: Hold the Line Against Chemical Weapons

by Stewart M. Patrick
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General Ahmet Uzumcu speaks during a news conference in The Hague October 11, 2013. The OPCW, which is overseeing the destruction's of Syria's arsenal, won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday. Set up in 1997 to eliminate all chemicals weapons worldwide, its mission gained critical importance this year after a sarin gas strike in the suburbs of Damascus killed more than 1,400 people in August (Michel Kooren/Courtesy Reuters).

In awarding this year’s Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Norwegian Nobel Committee had three clear objectives. The first was to reinforce the global taboo against chemical weapons, violated by the large-scale sarin gas attack on civilians in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, which the Obama Administration says was launched by Syrian government forces. The second was to bolster the work of OPCW inspectors newly arrived in Syria as they seek to locate, quarantine, and destroy that country’s one thousand ton arsenal. The third was to chastise international laggards, including the United States and Russia, who have failed eliminate their remaining stockpiles of these horrific weapons. Read more »

At Stake in Syria: The Chemical Weapons Taboo

by Stewart M. Patrick
A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen August 21, 2013. Syrian activists accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of launching a gas attack that killed nearly 500 people on Wednesday, in what would, if confirmed, be by far the worst reported use of chemical arms in the two-year-old civil war. The Syrian armed forces strongly denied using chemical weapons. Syrian state television said the accusations were fabricated to distract a team of U.N. chemical weapons experts which arrived three days ago (Ammar Dar/Courtesy Reuters).

Syrian opposition activists allege government forces launched a devastating poison gas attack yesterday that killed hundreds of civilians in suburban Damascus. If true, it would be the war’s worst atrocity—and would mock the “red line” warning that President Obama issued Assad exactly a year ago. The claims also reinforce the urgency of bolstering the chemical weapons inspection regime in Syria. Five months after their first alleged use, the world has no clear picture of how often or by whom chemical weapons have been employed, nor about the security of remaining weapons depots. Read more »

Obama’s Message to the Muslim World at the UN

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York, September 25, 2012 (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters).

From the podium at the opening session of the 67th UN General Assembly, President Barack Obama  defended freedom of speech as a human right that must not be infringed and expressed confidence that “the rising tide of liberty”—as witnessed in the Arab spring—“will never be reversed.” His speech was a welcome riposte to demands from Muslim leaders, outraged by a crude video mocking the prophet Mohammed, for global rules against the defamation of religion. At the same time, his address reminded us of how turbulent the “Arab spring” that Obama lauded in last year’s speech had become. Read more »